Pierre Cardin was a creative visionary. His decisions changed fashion forever, whether he was making his haute couture collections accessible by introducing ready-to-wear, breaking design tradition with space-age unisex looks, or creating a global business blueprint that brands follow to this day. “What I am now never existed before,” he told Vogue in 1982. On Tuesday, the fashion industry mourned the news of the French designer’s death at the age of 98.
Cardin had a long and decorated career spanning more than eight decades. Born in 1922 outside of Venice, he relocated to France with his family to find refuge from the rise of Italian fascism. Cardin cut his teeth as a tailor and worked under Christian Dior during the New Look era. He founded his own eponymous label in 1950, and the rest is history.
In 1954, his “bubble dresses,” known for their bubble-like skirt, became a worldwide commercial success, and five years later, he presented his first ready-to-wear collection at the Printemps department store in Paris — a bold move that got him temporarily expelled from Chambre Syndicale, the body governing French haute couture. In the ’60s, he shaped the mod aesthetic with space-age fashion — futuristic collections influenced by geometric shapes and crafted in fabrics like plastics and brightly colored vinyl. Cardin set the stage for modern branding in the following decades by signing his name on everything from accessories and fragrances to home goods. Throughout his tenure, countless celebrities have worn his designs, including Jackie Kennedy, Jeanne Moreau, the Beatles, and Naomi Campbell.
In 2019, the Brooklyn Museum recognized Cardin’s fashion innovation with a retrospective called Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, and in 2020, a documentary called House of Cardin was released. Take a look at some of his best moments below.